Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A new braconid wasp:Pseudofornicia nigrisoma

The wasp family Braconidae is huge. To this date we know about 17 000 species but estimates go as high as 50 000. All of the braconids are parasitoids which means they spend a significant portion of their life as parasites of a host organism. 

Braconid wasps parasitize upon beetle, fly or butterfly larvae but also on adult insects of groups such as aphids and true bugs. Most species kill their hosts, though some cause the hosts to become sterile and less active.

Our new species which comes from Vietnam is also part of a newly described genus. The genus name was derived from the greek word for fallacy, pseudos and the genus name of a group with similar looking species, Fornicia. The species name comes from the Latin word for black, nigro, and the Greek word for body, soma, all because of the largely black body.

For the experts: Pseudofornicia gen. n. (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Microgastrinae) is described (type species: P. nigrisoma sp. n. from Vietnam) including three Oriental (type species, P. flavoabdominis (He & Chen, 1994), comb. n. and P. vanachterbergi Long, (nom. n. for Fornicia achterbergi Long, 2007; not F. achterbergi Yang & Chen, 2006) and one Australian species (P. commoni (Austin & Dangerfield, 1992), comb. n.). Keys to genera with similar metasomal carapace and to species of the new genus are provided. The new genus shares the curved inner middle tibial spur, the comparatively small head, the median carina of the first metasomal tergite and the metasomal carapace with Fornicia Brullé, 1846, but has the first tergite movably joined to the second tergite and the third tergite 1.1–1.6 × as long as the second tergite medially and is flattened in lateral view. One of the included species is a primary homonym and is renamed in this paper.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A new microsnail: Angustopila dominikae

The new species in the eye of a
sewing needle (Photo:B. Páll-Gergely, N. Szpisjak)
The world’s smallest known terrestrial snail has just been discovered in China. An international team of researchers found the snail while examining soil samples collected in Guangxi Province, Southern China. 

The colleagues also described six other new small species of terrestrial snails, some of which were just a little bigger than the smallest species, Angustopila dominikae, and yet these are still large snails compared to the tiniest known species, Ammonicera minortalis, a marine representative half the size of our newcomer.

The new species is named after the wife of the first author.

For the experts: Seven new species of Hypselostomatidae are described from the Chinese province Guangxi: Angustopila dominikae Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n., A. fabella Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n., A. subelevata Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n., A. szekeresi Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n., Hypselostoma socialis Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n., H. lacrima Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n. and Krobylos sinensis Páll-Gergely & Hunyadi, sp. n. The latter species is reported from three localities. All other new species are known only from the type locality. Specimens nearly identical to the type specimens of Angustopila huoyani Jochum, Slapnik & Páll-Gergely, 2014 were found in a cave in northern Guangxi, 500 km from the type locality. Adult individuals of Angustopila subelevata sp. n. (shell height = 0.83–0.91 mm, mean = 0.87 mm) and A. dominikae sp. n. (shell height of the holotype = 0.86 mm) represent the smallest known members of the Hypselostomatidae, and thus are amongst the smallest land snails ever reported. We note that Pyramidula laosensis Saurin, 1953 might also belong to Krobylos. Paraboysidia neglecta van Benthem Jutting, 1961, which was previously included in Angustopila, is classified in Hypselostoma.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A new crayfish: Procambarus holifieldi

Procambarus is a North and Central American genus of crayfish. Originally it was described as a group for four species, but by now it contains about 160 species.

All close relatives of the new species never use permanent water such as a stream or lake and spend most of their life underground in excavated complex burrows. They may occasionally leave their burrows in search of a mate or food, which is most common during and after periods of heavy rains.

This new species was found in Alabama and named in honor of its collector Jesse Holifield (Alabama Biodiversity Center).

For the experts: Procambarus (Girardiella) holifieldi, new species, is a primary burrowing crayfish from a low-lying field in Perry County, Alabama. It belongs to the Hagenianus Group in the subgenus Girardiella.  The new species is morphologically most similar to Procambarus (Girardiella) barbiger.  They differ in the size and shape of the caudal processes.  Procambarus barbiger has a beard along the mesial margin of the palm of the chela, while the new species lacks the beard.  In addition to the description of the new species, the Hagenianus Group is reviewed and new synonymies are provided. We demonstrate that a cephalic process is indeed present in the Hagenianus Group.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A new freshwater smelt: Galaxiella toourtkoourt

The fish family Galaxiidae comprises about 40 species of small fish many of which are seriously threatened by introduced exotic salmonid species, particularly trout species, which as adults prey upon galaxiids and a juveniles compete with them for food.

Many galaxiid species live in fresh water for their entire life, but a good number is known to be amphidromous which means larvae are hatched in a river, but are washed downstream to the ocean, later returning to rivers as juveniles to complete their development to full adulthood. Most species of this group live in Southern Australia or New Zealand, but some are found in South Africa, southern South America, Lord Howe Island, New Caledonia, and the Falkland Islands.

The small genus Galaxiella contains three species that are only known to live in Australia. One of them, Galaxiella pusilla, is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The very same species was already thought of consisting of two different species and this has now been confirmed and a new species, Galaxiella toourtkoourt, was described. This of course means that the threat for each of the two species might be even larger than it was determined while they were treated as one species.

The name of the new species is pronounced “Too-urt Koo-urt” (or Tu-urt Ku-urt), from the Australian indigenous language groups Tjapwurrung, Korn Kopan noot, and Peekwurrung, meaning ‘little fish in freshwater’. 

For the experts: The dwarf galaxias, Galaxiella pusilla (Mack), is a small, threatened freshwater fish from coastal south-eastern Australia. Recent genetic studies, using multiple nuclear and mitochondrial DNA markers, found substantial differences between populations in western Victoria and south Australia (‘west region’) compared to eastern Victoria, Flinders Island, and Tasmania (‘east region’) that suggest the presence of a cryptic species. Morphological measurements and meristic counts from multiple populations within each region were undertaken to investigate potential differences between regions. Several characters, found to discriminate between individuals in the regions and to be diagnostic for two taxa, were used to describe a new species, Galaxiella toourtkoourt, for the west region. This is only the second species in the Galaxiidae to exhibit sexual dimorphism. The original description of Galaxiella pusilla, based on five specimens, is revised following examination of a large number of individuals. Both species are considered nationally threatened and are categorised as ‘endangered’; the revised distribution of G. pusilla s.s. is reduced by approximately 60%. A number of inconsistencies in the most recent revision of the genus Galaxiella are also corrected.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A new rove beetle: Awas gigas

The beetle family Staphylinidae, better known as rove beetles, is currently the largest group of beetles known. It contains about 60 000 species in thousands of genera.  Most rove beetles are predators of insects and other kinds of invertebrates, living in forest leaf litter and similar kinds of decaying plant matter. They are also commonly found under stones, and around freshwater and oceanic margins.

Members of the small genus Awas  (six species known so far) are unique in having a conspicuously elongated head, and a relatively small abdomen in contrast to the large body, hence the species name gigas for the new member although the animal with about 5 mm length is anything but a giant.

For the experts: A new distinctive species of the rare Oriental goniacerine genus Awas Löbl, A. gigas sp. n., is described and illustrated, based on three males and fourteen females taken at the Daoyao Shan Natural Reserve in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. All specimens were collected from colonies of the ant genus Pachycondyla F. Smith nesting in decomposing woods.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A new agamid: Acanthosaura phuketensis

The family Agamidae comprises of more than 350 lizard species, including such distinctive members as the thorny devil and the flying lizard. They are mostly occurring in Africa, Asia, and Australia. All agamids have well-developed limbs, and many have keeled scales, and throat flaps or fans. They range in size from tiny (14 mm length for Pogona microlepidota) to quite large (145 cm length for the water dragon Hydrosaurus amboinensis).

Many agamid species are called dragon or dragon lizards but these are vary vague names as there are many other reptilians that have been named dragons because of the resemblance of the mighty mythical creatures, e.g. the Komodo dragon belongs to an entirely different family that is distantly related to agamids.

The name of this new species refers to Phuket Island, on which the specimens were collected. The authors also have some common name suggestions in different languages: Kingkakhaownaam Phuket (Thai), Phuket Horned Tree Agamid (English), Acanthosaure de Phuket (French), Phuket-Nackenstachler (German), Phuketstekelnekagame (Dutch).

For the experts: We describe a new lowland forest-dwelling species of the genus Acanthosaura from Phuket Island and the Phuket mountain range in southwestern Thailand. Acanthosaura phuketensis sp. nov., the 11th species in the genus, seems most closely related to A. crucigera from Myanmar and western Thailand and A. cardamomensis from the Cardamom Mountains, but can be differentiated from them by a combination of morphological and coloration characteristics. This new discovery stresses the importance of preserving the last forest patches remaining on Phuket Island, home to three other squamate endemics.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A new false gecko: Pseudogekko atiorum

Pseudogekko is a genus of rare gecko species, commonly known as false geckos. All four known species are found in the Philippines. Despite their common name these are real geckos, a group of reptiles comprising more than 1 500 species.

Geckos have a number of unique features that distinguish them from other lizards. They use sounds in social interactions with other geckos. They lack eyelids and a fixed lens which is why they often lick their eyes to keep them clean and moist. However, they are probably best known for their specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces, and even cross indoor ceilings with ease.

The species name honors the Ati people, an ethnic group believed to be among the first to colonize the central Philippines. 

For the experts: Recent investigations into the species diversity of false geckos (genus Pseudogekko Taylor) have revealed several cryptic species, highlighting the need for a more thorough understanding of diversity within this enigmatic genus of endemic Philippine geckos. Newly available genetic data reveal that two of the four currently recognized species are complexes of multiple deeply divergent evolutionary lineages. In this paper we evaluate species diversity in one of these complexes, P. brevipes Boettger, and describe one additional new species. For nearly a century, P. brevipes has been recognized as a single, “widespread” species with a geographic range spanning two major faunal regions and several island groups. Poor understanding of this species has persisted due to both limited sampling and its apparent rarity. We evaluate both morphological and genetic data to define species limits in P. brevipes, and find character-based evidence to justify the recognition of two unique evolutionary lineages, one of which we describe as a new species (P. atiorum sp. nov.). The species included in this study have allopatric distributions and differ from congeners by numerous diagnostic characters of external morphology, and therefore should be recognized as full species in accordance with lineage-based species concepts. This newly described species increases the total number of species of Pseudogekko to seven.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A new copepod: Neocyclops hoonsooi

Copepods are small crustaceans found in the sea and every freshwater habitat. About 13 000 species of copepods are known to science. Planktonic copepods are important to global ecology and the carbon cycle. They are usually the dominant group in zooplankton, and are the major food organisms for small fish and other crustaceans such as krill. Some scientists believe they form the largest animal biomass on earth.

One of the plaktonic groups is Cyclopoida. The free-living members of this group are almost identical to each other in physical appearance. The cyclopoid genus Neocyclops inhabits marine environments. It's species are widely distributed in coastal habitats of the Northeast and Tropical Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Black and Red Seas and the Indo-Pacific. Most of the species are endemic.

The new species was found at a beach in South Korea and the species name is dedicated to the late Professor Hoon Soo Kim in honor of his contribution to the development of invertebrate taxonomy in Korea.

For the experts: A new cyclopoid species of the genus Neocyclops Gurney, 1927 is described. Type specimens were collected from a beach on south-western coast of the Korean Peninsula by rinsing intertidal coarse sandy sediments. Neocyclops hoonsooi sp. n. is most characteristic in showing the conspicuous chitinized transverse ridges originating from the medial margins of the coxae of all swimming legs. The new species is most similar to N. vicinus, described from the Brazilian coast, and N. petkovskii, from Australia. All three species share a large body size (more than 750 µm long), the presence of an exopodal seta on the antenna, two setae on the mandibular palp, the same seta/spine armature on the third endopodal segment of leg 3 (3 setae + 3 spines), and the fairly long inner distal spine on the third endopodal segment of the female leg 4. However, N. hoonsooi sp. n. differs from both species by the much shorter caudal rami (less than 1.7 times as long as wide) and the shorter dorsal caudal seta VII. Furthermore, N. hoonsooi is clearly distinguished from N. vicinus by the 10-segmented antennule (vs 12 segments in N. vicinus), and from N. petkovskii by the elongate inner distal spine on leg 5 exopod and the 3-segmented leg 5 in male (vs 4-segmented in N. petkovskii). A tabular comparison of characters separating N. hoonsooi from its closest allies and a key to Neocyclops species from the Indo-Pacific Ocean are provided. This is the first record of the genus Neocyclops from the northern Pacific.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A new rare wasp: Sierolomorpha sogdiana

The cosmopolitan family Sierolomorphidae has about 12 identified species found in Tropical Northern Hemisphere America and Asia.  Little is known about their biology, except that most are ectoparasitic as larvae. The adults are black or brown, and all known species are solitary ectoparasitoids of other insects.

The new member of this group was found in Uzbekistan. Its name originates from the ancient Sogdiana in Central Asia, with reference to the type locality.

For the experts: Sierolomorpha sogdiana Lelej & Mokrousov, spec. nov. is described and illustrated from Central Asia (Uzbekistan). A key to the Palaearctic species of Sierolomorpha and a World catalogue of the family Sierolomorphidae (13 species in three genera) are given.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A new creeping water bug: Ambrysus maya

Creeping water bugs are very similar in appearance and behavior to the giant water bugs of the family Belostomatidae, and they also occur in ponds and other still waters. However, most of the species actually occur in streams, rivers, and even on waterfalls.

The new species was found in the Rio Bravo in Belize. Its name refers to the Maya civilization, which occupied this region of Mesoamerica until the 17th century.

Here a short video of a creeping water bug:

For the experts: The Neotropical Ambrysus stali La Rivers species complex is reviewed and includes A. bifidus La Rivers & Nieser, A. scolius La Rivers, A. stali La Rivers, and A. tricuspis La Rivers. Ambrysus oblongulus Montandon is removed as a member of this complex. Features uniting these species are related to male genitalia and associated structures. Ambrysus maya n. sp. is the fifth species in the complex and is described from Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico based on specimens from recent collecting and museum collections. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

A new tubeworm: Lamellibrachia sagami

Worms of the genus Lamellibrachia are related to the giant tube worm, Riftia pachyptila, which is known to live close to black smokers. All these worms can tolerate extremely high hydrogen sulfide levels and many of them are known to grow quite large (3 m). Like other tube worms, they are marine and benthic. Their primary food is derived from the sulphide-rich fluids emanating from the environment they live in. The sulphides are metabolized by symbiotic bacteria living in an internal organ, the trophosome.

Today's species was found off the coast of Japan in a cold seep at about 1100 m depth.  A cold seep is an area of the ocean floor where hydrogen sulfide, methane and other hydrocarbon-rich fluids slowly pass through small openings in the sea floor. They often form a brine pool. The word cold has nothing to do with the temperature. Actually, the temperature of a cold seep is often slightly higher than its surroundings. Cold seeps constitute a biome supporting several endemic species.

The species name refers to the coastal area of Sagami Bay, the type locality. 

For the experts: A new vestimentiferan tubeworm species of the genus Lamellibrachia Webb, 1969 is described. It was collected from cold seep areas off Hatsushima in Sagami Bay and at the Daini Tenryu Knoll in the Nankai Trough (606–1170 m depth). Lamellibrachia sagami sp. nov. differs from seven congeneric species in the following character states; showing a wider range of diameter of vestimental and trunk plaques than L. barhami, L. luymesi, L. satsuma and L. anaximandri; and having more numerous sheath lamellae (3–6 pairs) than L. juni (2–3 pairs) but fewer than L. victori (7 pairs) and L. columna (8–16 pairs).

Friday, September 11, 2015

A new roundworm: Aegialoalaimus bratteni

The roundworms or nematods are inhabiting nearly every habitat of our planet. Nematode species are difficult to distinguish as they are morphologically very uniform, and although over 25,000 have been described, of which more than half are parasitic, the total number of nematode species has been estimated to be about 1 million (or more).

Nathan Cobb, one of the world's leader of nematode science once said about the ubiquity of nematodes on Earth: In short, if all the matter in the universe except the nematodes were swept away, our world would still be dimly recognizable, and if, as disembodied spirits, we could then investigate it, we should find its mountains, hills, vales, rivers, lakes, and oceans represented by a film of nematodes. The location of towns would be decipherable, since for every massing of human beings there would be a corresponding massing of certain nematodes. Trees would still stand in ghostly rows representing our streets and highways. The location of the various plants and animals would still be decipherable, and, had we sufficient knowledge, in many cases even their species could be determined by an examination of their erstwhile nematode parasites.

This new find comes from bottom sediment samples that were collected in several locations in the southern part of the Skagerrak called Bratten area hence the species name Aegialoalaimus bratteni.

For the experts: New species, Aegialoalaimus bratteni sp. n. was found in Skagerrak off the west coast of Sweden. It is particularly characterized by the 1.5-1.8 mm long body, short papilliform cephalic sensilla, excretory pore opening just posterior to nerve ring level, spicules that are straight in shape, supplements and gubernaculum absent, separating it from other valid species of the genus. It can be further differentiated from Aegialoalaimus elegans in having longer body (1.5-1.8 mm in A. bratteni sp. n. vs 0.8-1.3 mm in A. elegans), shape and size of spicules (straight and 22-29 µm long in A. bratteni sp. n. vs arcuate and 34 µm long in A. elegans), absence of precloacal supplements (vs seven-eight in A. elegans), absence of gubernaculum (vs present in A. elegans); from A. setosa in having shorter tail (c´=2.6-3.1 in A. bratteni sp. n. vs c´=4.2 in A. setosa), shorter cephalic sensilla (0.5-1.0 µm in A. bratteni sp. n. vs 9 µm in A. setosa), shape and size of spicules (straight and 22-29 µm long in A. bratteni sp. n. vs arcuate and 40-45 µm long in A. setosa), absence of precloacal supplements (vs eight in A. setosa), absence of gubernaculum (vs present in A. setosa); from A. leptosoma in having longer body (1.5-1.8 mm in A. bratteni sp. n. vs 0.5-0.7 mm in A. leptosoma) and other measurements, shape of spicules (straight in A. bratteni sp. n. vs arcuate in A. leptosoma), absence of precloacal supplements (vs three-five in A. leptosoma), absence of gubernaculum (vs present in A. leptosoma). Type specimens of Aegialoalaimus cylindricauda Allgén, 1933 and A. paratenuicaudatus Allgén, 1959 are redescribed and taxonomic status of these two species is re-evaluated. A taxonomic review, tabular compendium and identification key for species of the genus Aegialoalaimus are also given.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A new leech: Erpobdella borisi

Not all leeches are blood sucking worms. Members of the family Erpobdellidae have abandoned the blood feeding habits of their ancestors and became predators of small aquatic invertebrates, which they often swallow whole. Species of this genus have three or four pairs of eyes, but never have true jaws, and are typically 20–50 mm long. 

These leeches are widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere and found mostly in freshwater. Our new species was found in a cave in Iran. The species name honors Professor Boris Sket, former dean of the Biotechnical faculty and rector of the University of Ljubljana, and researcher of invertebrate cave fauna.

For the experts: Erpobdella borisi n. sp. is a predatory leech inhabiting cave waters in Iran. Probably, it is either a troglobiont or troglophile. The leech has no eyes, and the complete mid-body somite is divided unequally into five annuli. Results of phylogenetic analysis based on morphological characters and COI gene sequence indicate the species to be closely related to Erpobdella japonica, E. octoculata and E. testacea.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A new herb: Spiradiclis longanensis

The genus Spiradiclis belongs to the Coffee family and comprises approximately 45 species. Its members are perennial herbs or shrubs that  usually grow at the entrances of caves or mountain cliffs in the limestone area of Southern China and Northern Vietnam.

Not that any of these have much in common with what we know as Coffee. The family Rubiaceae commonly known as the coffee, madder, or bedstraw family consists of about 13 000 species. 

For the experts: A new species of Spiradiclis (Rubiaceae) was found during our field trip to Guangxi, China, and is described here as Spiradiclis longanensis R. J. Wang. This species is readily distinguishable from other prostrate and decumbent species of the genus described previously by dense pubescence all over the plant, 5–20 small flowers per cymose, linear calyx lobes, and tubular corolla. The conservation status of VU was preliminarily assessed according to IUCN categories and criteria.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A new sweetlip: Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus

(Image: Queensland Museum)
An elusive and aggressive blue fish, until now known only through seafarers’ tales, has finally been officially described by an old friend of mine. So hard to catch, the fish had become known to anglers as “blue bastard” - a name it is now officially stuck with. The species name refers to the combination of the Lation words “Careleo" for blue and "nothus" for bastard.

These fish live across the north of Australia from Cape York on the tip of Queensland to Ningaloo reef off the coast of Western Australia, hanging out in shallow, murky water, and feeding on small crustaceans like larval shrimps and crabs.

People who have sighted the fish have also described seeing them “kissing”. However, that couldn’t be anything further from the truth as it is actually a combative behavior between rival males for territory. They appear to lock jaws and struggle against each other until one fish gives up.

For the experts: Two distinct haemulid fishes from Australia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago respectively have long been confused with Plectorhinchus schotaf (Forsskål, 1775). Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus sp. nov. is described from 17 specimens collected off western and far northern Australia, between the Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia and Torres Strait, Queensland. It has also been confirmed outside this range by photographs taken at Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, and at Claremont Isles and Lizard Island, Queensland. The new species is unique among the genus in having a combination of dorsal-fin rays XII, 18–20, lateral-line scales 56–61, gill rakers 7–9 on the upper limb and 18–20 on the lower limb of the first arch, nostrils minute, and fresh colouration in adults including body uniformly grey, cheek, opercles and posterior margin of the opercular membrane uniformly blue-grey, and rim of orbit and upper edge of maxilla dusky yellow. In contrast to its closest congeners, the juveniles have a distinctive pattern of narrow creamish-white to pale grey stripes on a dark grey to chocolate brown background on the head and body, and oblique dark stripes progressing with growth to spots on the caudal fin. Plectorhinchus unicolor (Macleay, 1883) from Japan to northern Australia is resurrected from the synonomy of P. schotaf and redescribed on the basis of the holotype and 24 non-type specimens. Plectorhinchus unicolor is most similar to P. schotaf, but can be distinguished by fresh colouration, modal dorsal and pectoral-fin ray counts and DNA barcoding. Plectorhinchus schotaf appears to be restricted to the region from southeast Africa to the Arabian Sea, including the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Plectorhinchus griseus (Cuvier in Cuvier & Valenciennes, 1830) from Indian and Sri Lankan Seas has previously been treated as a junior synonym of P. schotaf, but in accordance with Smith (1962), is here confirmed as a valid species, readily distinguished from the latter by a concavity in the lateral profile of the snout in adults, deep body and high soft dorsal-fin ray count. Comparison of the CO1 genetic marker utilised in DNA barcoding also resulted in significant genetic divergences between the new species, P. unicolor and their closest sampled congeners. Some behavioural observations are also presented for the species treated, including aggressive interactions between individuals of the new species, the likes of which have not previously been recorded among species of Plectorhinchus.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A new recluse spider: Loxosceles guajira

Image of a close relative of the new species, L. laeta
Recluse spiders are members of the genus Loxosceles and are known under many different names, such as brown, fiddle-back, violin spiders or reapers. These are venomous spiders known for their bite, which sometimes produces a characteristic set of symptoms known as loxoscelism. This condition can occasionally occur after somebody was bitten by a  recluse spider. The affected area becomes dark and turns into a deep open sore as the skin around the bite dies. 

So far only two species of the genus were known from Colombia but now a new one was found in a cave near Riohacha in the Department of La Guajira. The latter was also used to name the new species,  Loxosceles guajira.

For the experts: Only two species of Loxosceles occur in Colombia: Loxosceles lutea Keyserling, 1877 and Loxosceles rufipes (Lucas 1834). In this paper, we describe a new Colombian species that we include in the laeta species group due to the male’s sub-oval palpal bulb, elongated embolus longer than the bulb’s diameter, swollen palpal tibia at least two times longer than the tarsus, and by the female’s blunt seminal receptacle lacking any globular lobes at the tip (Gertsch 1967). We also provide new records for L. lutea and L. rufipes.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A new shrimp: Urocaridella liui

Urocaridella is a small genus of shrimps with currently five species although many researchers claim that there are many more left to be discovered and described. Some of these tiny mosquito like shrimps clean the mouths and bodies of moray eels and various other cave dwelling fish that share its habitat. Unlike other cleaner shrimps, Urocaridella are capable of prolonged hovering and free swimming, and prefer doing so than perching.

One of the neatest things about Urocaridella are their comical way of swimming. The video below shows what these shrimps are capable of doing. When swimming or hovering, they hold their claws downward and buzz around.

The new species came from a sea-mount at a depth of 255 m, unusually deep for this genus, and was almost colorless. All other known species of the genus occur in shallow subtidal waters and with often striking coloration. Urocaridella liui was named in honor of the late Professor Ruiyu Liu (J. Y. Liu) for his contributions to crustacean research in China.

For the experts: A new species of palaemonid shrimp, Urocaridella liui sp. nov., is discovered from deep waters on the Yap Seamount in the Western Pacific. The new species is unique in the genus by having a pronounced triangular protrusion on the third posterior part of the third pleonal tergite and the almost colorless body, as well as for its occurrence in waters deeper than 250 meters. Other distinct characteristics of this species are the arrangement of dorsal rostral teeth; shorter fingers of the first and second pereiopods and shorter dactyli of the posterior pereiopods; the ratio of the carpus/palm length of the first and second pereiopods; the slender, but not filiform third to fifth pereiopods; and rounded postero-ventrally margin of the fifth abdominal somite. A key to the species of Urocaridella is provided.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A new vine snake: Chironius brazili

Colubrid snakes of the genus Chironius comprise 21 currently recognized species widely distributed in Central and South America. These snakes, often called sipos (from the Portuguese word cipó for liana) are not venomous and are mostly harmless.

The species name "brazili" honors Vital Brazil Mineiro da Campanha (1865–1950), a Brazilian scientist who discovered the specificity of snakebite serum and developed antiserum to treat bites of several venomous snakes of different genera. He also founded two centers of excellence in research and production of strategic biological products for public health in Brazil.

For the experts: We conducted a taxonomic review of Chironius flavolineatus on the basis of continuous and discrete morphological characters. We recognize a new species which is distinguished from all currently recognized congeners by the following unique combination of characters: first third of body black or dark gray; vertebral stripe yellowish or creamish white distinct from dorsals of nape and extending throughout almost whole body length; head dorsum tan to brown, distinct from background color of first third of body; posterior temporal scales ranging one to four; cloacal shield frequently divided; two to four rows of keeled dorsal scales at midbody; venter ground color gradually darkening towards cloaca; region of medial constriction of hemipenis slightly covered with spinules separating calyces of apex from spines below region of constriction; in lateral view, sulcus spermaticus positioned on convex face of hemipenis; ascending process of premaxilla oblique anteroposteriorly to longitudinal axis of skull; optic fenestrae not exceeding frontoparietal suture; posterior border of supratemporal exceeding braincase; dorsoventral axis of quadrate oblique mesolaterally, moving away from longitudinal axis of skull. Furthermore, we provide data on morphological variation, distribution, and an emended diagnosis for C. flavolineatus.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A new clam: Acesta cryptadelphe

Credit: © Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Dr. Jean-Marc Gagnon: This is the culmination of a story that began decades ago when, as a Ph.D. student, I first observed this clam in an underwater submersible off the coast of Newfoundland.[that was 1984] Originally, we assumed it to be a European species.

In recent years, more samples have been collected off the Grand Banks and in a marine protected area "The Gully" about 220 km off the coast of Nova Scotia. Researchers form the Bedford Institute of Oceanography used ROPOS - an underwater vehicle with cameras and manipulator arms - to collect samples. Through DNA analysis coupled with comparative studies of other giant file clams in museum collections, Gagnon and his colleagues determined these north Atlantic specimens to be a new species.

The giant file clam, about 9 to 15 cm long, is two to three times larger than a regular file clam (so-named because of the sharp ridges on the shell surface). This creature attaches to steep, rocky outcrops in canyons that are home to other deepwater species such as cold-water corals. The clam's scientific name, Acesta cryptadelphe, means "cryptic sibling," which refers to the similarity in shape and structure to the previously described European giant file clam, Acesta excavata.

For the experts: We analyze the morphological and genetic variability within and between seven species of Acesta and specimens recently collected in the northwest Atlantic using traditional morphological measurements, landmark-based geometric morphometrics, and the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene sequences, with particular emphasis on North Atlantic species. Shell morphology and external shell appearance do not allow reliable distinction between the widely recognized northeastern Atlantic A. excavata and other northwest Atlantic species or populations of Acesta, with the exception of A. oophaga. Similarly, shape analysis reveals a wide variability within northeastern Atlantic A. excavata, and significant morphological overlap with A. bullisi from the Gulf of Mexico and A. rathbuni from the southwestern Pacific and South China Sea. Specimens from the northwestern and Mid-Atlantic display shell shapes marginally similar to that of A. excavata. These differences are at least partly related to anterior or posterior shifting of the shell body and to the opposite shifting of the hinge line/dorsal region and upper lunule. These morphological variations, along with the midline-width-ratio, explain much of the variability extracted by principal component analysis. Results from a mitochondrial DNA barcode approach (COI), however, suggest that the northwest Atlantic specimens belong to a new species for which we propose the name Acesta cryptadelphe sp. nov. Differences in larval shell sizes between northeastern and northwestern Atlantic specimens are consistent with this result.